Discovery of the Corner Rise Islands
Originally the Corner Rise Islands were just a myth, rumours were spread about a set of floating islands, complete with sea monsters and merpeople. Most sailors did not believe they existed, until the islands were discovered. By accident.
It’s the seventeenth century, and a hapless pirate was bemoaning his failure to make any profit, even thought he had been as sea for way too long. Every time Captain Cornelius Johns reached a Spanish galleon some other pirate ship had been there first. There was nothing left to capture unless he wanted a few extra rats. Johns did not so much as taste a glass of stolen wine. His crew, already a nasty lot, were becoming more mutinous by the minute and he did not like the looks his first mate, Golden Abrahams, had started giving him.
To be fair, Johns thought to himself, I’d be mad if had a name like Golden and returned to land a pauper.
“Captain!” shouted a crew member from the crow’s nest. “I see land.”
Captain Johns rolled his eyes. Yes, of course the man did. Just like they saw ships that were not there and yet managed not to see two vessels only to hear cannon fire on the wind. The cannon was fired by another pirate ship. The one that had just passed while they headed north. Some of the men had wondered why she had suddenly adjusted her sails and raced off to the south.
The captain reached for his telescope to look at what the man in the crow’s nest pointed at. Several men were already squinting into the rising sun. Johns spat. Did the man plan to blind him? Looking into the sun through a telescope? Mutinous, scurvy rats. He would have none of it.
“It be low lying cloud.” Johns said. “Now I’m going below. Anyone who bothers me will suffer. Anyone.” He looked hard at his first mate.
The captain took himself to his quarters where he stared at the table. He then lent on his elbows and held his head in his hands. Meanwhile directly ahead of his ship shearwaters called from the cliffs and wreckfish swam, hidden in underwater rocks and among the ribs of a few sunken ships.
Cornelius Johns lifted his head out of his hands. He thought of his navy days when just steeling an extra ships biscuit would have got him lashed. Johns wished he had a cat to let out of the bag. Maybe he could introduce it as pirate punishment? It would be better than keelhauling. He had watched two men die like that, it had been a waste of good fighters.
Johns’ lips pinched like a recently tightened draw string purse. He rose with deliberate slowness and walked up the stairs. Someone is going to get it.
Several of the crew saw his face and moved aside. He walked past the fo’c’sle to the bow sprit and laid his hand on the rail. He looked ahead and saw a few clouds with sharp points. He sighed again. Probably clouds with nasty weather. He had seen some strange stuff while out a sea, including a funnel that came down from the sky. They had only managed to chase one galleon, but that funnel got to the ship first. It shredded the sails and reduced the galleon into chunks lengths of timber. The men refused to sail any further in that direction, even after the funnel had disappeared. Talk of sea serpents and giant whales filled the ship for days afterwards, but all Johns thought about were the barrels that bobbed in the water.
The captain walked back to the helm and stood behind the sailor at the wheel. “Steer five degrees to port.”
“Aye aye Captain!”
Captain Cornelius Johns looked over his crew, well, all that were on watch, and wondered which one would try to start the mutiny properly this time. He suppressed a sigh. Give it time, he thought, and they will do for me. Unless I get ‘em first. A smile played on his lips as he considered who to punish first. He looked at Golden Abrahams, who stared back. Yes, thought Johns, nobody really likes Abrahams.
He clasped his hands behind his back and raised his eyes ahead. Those clouds were not getting any closer, but they did look a bit more solid than before. Johns sneered. They were just clouds and he felt stubborn.
“Sails!” he bellowed. “More speed or it’ll be Candlemas before we make England!”
Several of the gawping men moved. The captain tutted and returned below.
He had just discovered that his rum ration was getting low when his ship made a noise that no captain wanted to hear. The sound of wood lightly nudging rock. Not hard enough to break anything, but enough to stop movement.
“Captain!” came a shout from above. “We’ve hit that cloud.”